Obama speech was sombre, repudiation of Bush era, says US media

January 21st, 2009 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 21 (IANS) “Hope” and “change” - the words that Barack Obama so extensively used in his presidential campaign - were reflected in the American media’s coverage of his inauguration as the 44th US President Tuesday.Major newspapers, in covering his inaugural speech, also analysed the tough legacy that Obama has been left with and how he might have to handle it.

The Washington Post, in an article headlined ‘Obama signals need for a sharp break from the past’, said that America’s new presidency would “bring even more widespread changes to a nation confronted by problems of historic significance”.

“Rarely has a president come into office with the public in such a seemingly conflicted mood. Battered by the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the nation’s future and their own well-being,” the article read.

“The war in Iraq has taxed public patience. The war in Afghanistan and conflict in the Middle East challenge the shrewdest of leaders.”

Describing the speech as sombre, the Washington Post went on to add that the speech fitted the times in which it was delivered.

The New York Times headlined its coverage of the presidential inauguration ‘As Barack Obama takes oath of office, nation in crisis embraces the moment’.

It described Obama’s address from the Capitol Hill as a stark repudiation of the era of George W. Bush.

“It was a delicate task, with Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney sitting feet from him as Mr. Obama, only minutes into his term as president, described the false turns and the roads not taken,” the newspaper wrote.

With the headline ‘Obama must deliver after lofty address’, the Washington Times stated that history would not judge Obama, the first African American president, by his colour but by his competence.

“…Those who marveled at the delivery of his oratory will now demand he deliver on his promises,” it stated.

“The task will not be easy in a turbulent world dominated by war and economic collapse, especially for a young president who on Tuesday promised action as far-reaching as harnessing the sun, raising health care’s quality while lowering its costs, and enacting fixes ‘bold and swift’ for an ailing economy many believe will take years to heal.”

Obama’s adopted hometown newspaper Chicago Tribune described his speech as a blunt criticism of the past.

“…In his speech, Obama was surprisingly stern, making clear in statements directed at Americans and even people in countries around the world that he sought a break not just from the past eight years but from decades of past leadership in Washington,” it wrote.

“He alluded to some of the most contentious points of the Bush years - referring to the collapsed levees in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and, in an apparent allusion to terror-fighting tactics such as domestic spying and coercive interrogations, he decried a ‘false’ choice ‘between our safety and our ideals’.”

Stating that the inaugural speech marked a high ceremony with dignity, an article in the Christian Science Monitor stated that Obama talked of today’s troubles but offered hope for tomorrow and aimed for a boost in morale.

“It did what an inaugural speech is supposed to do,” Leo Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, was quoted as saying in the article.

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